TV column for Thursday, June 19

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Sixties,” 9 p.m., CNN (barring a breaking-news

For years, officials insisted the U.S. was winning in
Vietnam. In truth, this compelling documentary says, President Johnson always
had doubts; we hear him on the phone, admitting his fears.

This film ends too abruptly in 1968. PBS has viewed Vietnam
with more depth and has an upcoming Ken Burns project. Still, CNN – helped by
ex-soldiers, reporters and historians – skillfully brings perspective.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Rookie Blue” season-opener, 9 and 10
p.m., ABC.

For four summers, this Canadian drama has juggled solid
crime stories with the soap-style lives of telegenic young cops. It has
succeeded, partly due to the appeal of Missy Peragrym as Andy.

Last season ended with a shoot-out; now Sam and Chloe are hospitalizes
and others are confused. Dov is in a funk after meeting the estranged husband
Chloe hadn’t mentioned. When Andy tries to talk him through it, they end up in
the middle of a hold-up. It’s a good hour; the second one is merely OK.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Dominion” debut, 9-10:30 p.m., CNN.

The 2010 movie “Legion” saw modern Earth as a battleground
between archangels, good (Michael) and evil (Gabriel). This series jumps ahead
25 years: Vile creatures roam; Earthlings huddle in fortified cities.

The best-equipped city is Vega (formerly Las Vegas), where Michael
lives. It’s led by a general (Alan Dale) and an ambitious senator (Anthony
Head), whose daughter and son, respectively, hope for the emergence of a “chosen”
child, now in his mid-20s. Then there’s the angry soldier (Christopher Egan)
who dismisses much of this. “Dominion” takes a while, but builds into an epic
series worth trying.

Other choices include:

“Critics Choice Awards,” 8-10 p.m., CW. There are 145
nominees from 23 networks -- NONE from CW. Expect some fun: Cedric the Entertainer
hosts; presenters include Kathy Griffin and Fred Armisen.

“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. With “Big Bang” being a
Critics Choice leader with five nominations (including best comedy series), we
can sample this rerun. Sheldon and Penny (Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, both nominees)
spend time together, after she quits her job and he’s forced to take a

“Black Box,” 8 p.m., ABC. “Box” gets a second chance with a
six-Thursday summer run. Kelly Reilly stars as a brilliant (and mentally ill) neuroscientist;
Vanessa Redgrave plays her therapist.

“Defiance” season-opener, 8 p.m., Syfy. The second season
finds big changes in the mining town where people link against alien forces.
Amanda (Julie Benz) is running a saloon, with creepy Niles replacing her as
mayor. Nolan searches for Stahma, the tough alien he’s raised since girlhood.
She offers some interesting surprises and questions, in an adequate episode.

“Gang Related,” 9 p.m., Fox. Embittered and paraplegic,
Carlos launches his own crime scheme, with nasty results. On the plus side, there
are moments adding depth to Javier (Carlos’s father) and to Kang, one of the
cops. On the minus, a plot twist involving Green (another cop) feels contrived.

“Rectify,” 9 p.m., Sundance. The terrific first season
focused on an ex-con, who’s at home while his murder conviction may get a new
trial. Tonight, people react to the fierce beating he received.

“Undateable,” 9:01 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. Producer Bill Lawrence
borrows actors from his other comedies. In the first episode (a so-so one), it’s
Briga Heelan (“Ground Floor”) as Nicki, returning to visit her new love Justin.
In the second, it’s Josh Hopkins (“Cougar Town”) as Leslie’s ex-husband.

TV column for Wednesday, June 18

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m.,

This well-crafted show keeps reminding us how richly varied
the dance world is. Last week, one judge was a ballet star; tonight, one is
Lil’ Buck -- described by producer-judge Nigel Lythgoe as “an incredible
Memphis jooker” – and the other is Jenna Dewan.

She starred in “Step Up,” about a gorgeous contemporary
dancer who falls in love with a muscular newcomer (Channing Tatum); then life
copied art and they married. This episode (from Atlanta) is the last of four
audition weeks, wrapping up Justin Bieber’s stretch introducing two dance

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Melissa & Joey” and “Baby Daddy” season-finales,
8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family.

The Joey-Melissa wedding was delayed last week by a pesky
detail – Joey learned he has a daughter via a long-ago fling (Brooke Burke).
Now he invites the daughter to stay, causing quick trouble with Melissa.

That’s followed by a “Baby Daddy” episode that links so-so
humor – always loud, occasionally clever – with key plot
points[MH1] :
Ben has finally renewed his romance with Riley; then come complications.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The 100,” 9 p.m., CW.

This series surprised people who, quite logically, had low
expectations for the CW. Now that it’s been renewed for next season, you might
want to catch up, starting with this opener.

For 97 years, a space station drifted above a ruined Earth.
Running out of resources, people sent 100 teen prisoners back, to see if the
planet is habitable again. This hour has confrontations that seem like
arbitrary plot devices. Stick around, though; in the episodes that follow, the
characters add depth.

Other choices include:

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.
This was supposed to be a big night for NBC, with the seventh and final game of
hockey’s Stanley Cup play-offs. Alas, there wasn’t even a Game 6; tonight, the
gap is filled by reruns – these two and then a “Chicago PD” involving an $8
million heist.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS. This transplanted rerun has
Melanie Griffith as Danny’s mother, arriving in Oahu with shocking news. Also,
a real-estate agent’s body is found inside the walls of a house

“Crazy Heart” (2009), 8-10:30 p.m., CMT. Here’s a new chance
to see Jeff Bridges’ superb, Oscar-winning performance as a former country star,
now a big drinker and a small-time performer. He meets a journalist (Maggie
Gyllenhaal) and a former protégé (Colin Farrell) who’s at the top.

“The Goldbergs,” 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., ABC. The first rerun
finds Beverly insisting that the new (and seemingly perfect) neighbors come for
a barbecue. The second has Barry going with his dad to work and Adam going with
his grandfather to an R-rated movie.

“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. This rerun has three dinners,
none turning out as planned. Haley diverts her parents … Shorty and Darlene
(Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly) upset Jay … and Cam and Mitchell attempt
the impossible –an evening without discussing the wedding or little Lily.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS. At first,
this rerun seems to only involve a petty crime on an incoming plane. Then a
body is found.


TV column for Tuesday, June 17

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Fargo” finale, 10 p.m., FX, repeating
at 11:32.

This is how we’d expect this great show to end -- alternately
funny, violent, weird and wonderful.

Mild-mannered Lester killed his wife and watched Malvo kill
the investigating police chief; he framed both murders on his brother, married
his ditzy assistant and thrived … until Malvo returned, killing Lester’s second
wife. At one point, Molly was the only cop who suspected Lester; now she has
support from two FBI guys and her husband Gus, an ex-cop. A big, splendid
finish builds.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

Back in 1961, civil-rights struggles were being ignored by
many Americans, including John and Robert Kennedy. Then protestors forced the
issue by defying the segregation of interstate buses.

“Freedom Riders” ranges from ride leaders to the Southerner
(then a young girl) who saw a mob attack riders outside her home. It also
includes the rider whom police forgot to arrest; he politely reminded them.
It’s a superb rerun, leading into next Tuesday’s new “Freedom Summer.”

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Perception” season-opener, 10 p.m.,

Pierce’s mind takes him in odd directions, including
conversations with people who aren’t really there. That’s his sub-conscious at
work, sometimes helpfully and sometimes not.

But this time, he has a whole spy adventure bouncing before
him in Paris, with bigger-than-life characters. He’s never imagined anything this
elaborate. The result is wonderfully clever, twice as good as the usual
“Perception” … and ten times as good as the lame “Rizzoli & Isles” that
precedes it.

Other choices include:

“Rizzoli & Isles,” 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., TNT. Usually a
strong, solid show, this reruns its entire, 16-hour fourth season. Then the
fifth season starts with an oddly weak hour. The crime story – a slain jogger,
a missing baby – is a backdrop for Rizzoli’s personal secret. Both stories are
relatively limp and mild.

“America’s Got Talent,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Auditions

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. As the team searches for the terrorist
Parsa in this rerun, its newcomer – Bishop (Emily Wickersham) – reveals she has
a past connection to him.

“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Sam and Callen
head to Mexico, searching for a retired killer they confronted during their
first case together.

“Chasing Life,” 9 p.m., ABC Family. This second episode,
like the first, is a maddening mix of extremes. It has a charming cast (led by
Italia Ricci and Aisha Dee ) … gorgeous Boston settings … and fresh turf,
telling of a 24-year-old with leukemia. It also has an absurd view of newspaper
work, plus numbskull moments from the lead character. One of those is in
tonight’s first scene; then “Life” gets better.

“The Night Shift,” 10:01, NBC. This San Antonio emergency
room is stuffed with injured Alamo re-enactors – hey, it was a tough battle –
and with a violent amnesiac. Also, a secretly gay doctor has military exercises
with a homophobe. Like previous hours, this has awful scenes with the administrator;
unlike previous ones, it turns its best character (Jill Flint as the shift
chief) into a brooding fool.

TV column for Monday, June 16

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Murder in the First,” 10 p.m., TNT.

This second episode continues the bright promise of the
opener: Producer Steven Bochco, back after a five-year absence, delivers the
quality he gave us in “Hill Street Blues,” “LA Law” and “NYPD Blue.”

Last week’s opener saw a vile tech-billionaire linked to two
murder victims – his biological father and the stewardess he’d just fired. Two
smart cops (Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson) worked the case, while the
former was being shattered by his wife’s death from cancer. Opening with an
autopsy and a burial, this hour (the second of 10) is superbly directed (by
Bochco’s son Jesse), written and acted.

II: “24,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Squashing its typical, world-in-peril story into 12 hours
(instead of 24) has amped up the energy for what was already a high-octane
show. Now this eighth hour reaches a fresh peak.

Margot, the terrorist, has given the president (William
Devane) an offer: She’ll stop her drone attacks in exchange for his life. Will
he agree? Will someone – his daughter, her husband (the chief-of-staff), her ex-lover
(Jack Bauer) -- stop him? Can it all be averted by finding a way to re-gain the
drones? This show works because you really can’t guess; it’s another terrific

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Switched at Birth” return, 8 p.m.,
ABC Family.

Before the show’s 10-week break, Toby thought he had an
Internet love. It was a cruel trick by a former friend, who also beat him up; a
bad day got much better when Bay found and romanced him. Also, Regina was fired
by her boss … yet reviled by neighbors for his development plan.

Now crises build on the day after. Some of this – especially
from Toby –is exasperating and illogical. Still, these are appealing people,
with great moments from the talented Vanessa Marano as Bay.

Other choices include:

“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Josh and Brian get
one-on-one dates with Andi Dorfman, amid the beauty of the French coast. The
other nine guys, alas, spend time with a French mime.

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW. In a new
episode, Brad Sherwood joins the improvisers. Then a rerun has Greg Proops.

“Mike & Molly,” 9 and 9:31 p.m., CBS. In the first
rerun, Molly reluctantly sees a therapist. In the second, she encourages Samuel’s
hopes of being a stand-up comedian.

“The Fosters,” 9 p.m., ABC Family. The first season ended
with jolts: Brandon, the pianist, was beaten up and his hand was deliberately
crushed; Callie’s adoption was delayed. Tonight, some flashbacks are confusing
and a plot detour is absurd, but there’s a compelling twist at the end.

“The Normal Heart” (2014), 9-11:15 p.m., HBO. Here’s a
seething look at the sluggish response to the AIDS crisis. Despite one flaw –
the conflicts sometimes seem heightened for dramatic effect – this is a strong
and moving film.

“Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Savi (Alyssa Milano) has
trouble at work (clashing with newcomer Toni) and at home, where she and her
estranged husband argue about selling the house. Also, April faces a big
assignment from her daughter’s school.

TV column for Sunday, June 15

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Masterpiece Mystery” season-opener, 9-10:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Will Burton is a brilliant British lawyer who wins
everything. Now he faces another great lawyer (Sophie Okonedo) and a master
criminal, in a story that becomes increasingly tense and personal.

David Tennant – who has leapt from “Dr. Who” to Shakespeare
to dramas and a musical – gives another perfect performance in “The Escape
Artist.” It’s a clever two-parter, launching a summer of mysteries. Next are four
tales with young Endeavour Morse, two with Hercule Poirot and another

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Believe” and “Crisis,” 9 and 10 p.m.,

Two once-promising shows end their Sunday runs. Neither will
be back next season.

“Believe” was the top prospect, with Oscar-winner Alfonso
Cuaron (“Gravity”) as co-creator and director of the first episode. Tonight,
little Bo tries to start a fresh life, then is drawn into a confrontation with
Dani. Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan) realizes he must link with Winter and Channing.

“Crisis” was (like CBS’ “Hostages”) a poorly conceived
kidnapping tale that viewers rejected instantly. Tonight, Gibson takes extreme
steps to look like a victim; oddly, there’s still an unscheduled episode.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO, rerunning
at 10:15.

HBO seizes Sundays now, with “Thrones” ending its season
tonight and “True Blood” starting its final one a week later.

Tonight, Daenerys finds it’s difficult to control the former
slave cities and her increasingly-willful dragons. There are big changes north
of the Wall. Also, Tyrion Lannister (Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage) and Bran Stark
adjust to changes in their lives.

Other choices include:

Basketball, 8 p.m. ET, ABC. The fifth game of the
best-of-seven series returns to San Antonio, where fans envision ending the
Miami Heat reign. That’s preceded by Jimmy Kimmel at 7 and a preview at 7:30.  

“The Good Wife,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. The first rerun, a
particularly good one, has Alicia in New York to give a speech about her life,
triggering flashbacks. That also sees her trying to link with a hot New York
lawyer (Jill Hennessy). And it introduces election fraud probe that continues
in the second hour.

“Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand,” 8-10 p.m., National
Geographic. Last year, “Inside Combat Rescue” spent six episodes following an
American unit in Afghanistan. Then cameras returned for six weeks, to follow
the 83
rd Rescue Squadron, assigned to protect the 36,000 people in
the Bagram area.

“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. It isn’t easy to dump a
sobriety sponsor, Jackie finds. When hers refuses to leave, she takes drastic
action, in a fairly good episode.

9:30, Showtime. Hank plans an intimate dinner to win back Karen, who is
recovering from her car crash. Then more and more people keep arriving – including
a bizarre chap, played with gusto by Rob Lowe. It’s an increasingly fun
episode, as the show nears the end of its seven-year run.

“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. Grace (Amanda Righetti) has
been kidnapped and the prime suspect seems to have a solid alibi. In this
rerun, Patrick Jane needs to use his mental skills quickly.